From the Pastors Desk
Jan3FriJanuary 3, 2020 Pastor Byron Hand
A number of years ago a friend gave me a copy of a book entitled “Love Jesus, Hate Church: How to Survive in Church or Die Trying” by Steve McCranie. The book examines honestly some of the things that most trouble us about the church. Another book that came out, around the same time, was titled “They Like Jesus but Not the Church: Insights from Emerging Generations” by Dan Kimball. This book, like the first, seeks to address why it is people don’t seem to resonate with the church and organized Christianity. Many have adopted this mindset due to the hurts that have been done to them by those in a particular church. It is possible for one to love Jesus and really struggle with His church, but that is not what we are called to. (If you want to hear an excellent presentation of this in only two minutes follow the link - https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/video/trip-lee-whether-christian-can-love-jesus-not-church/)
I want to briefly confess that I am one of those people who love the church with no apologies or qualifiers. I go to church on vacation and hate it when we have to cancel a service or when I miss attending because of travel or illness. I love the church. The Universal Church, made up of every believer on every corner of the planet from all time. I also love the local church and every expression of it where the Gospel is proclaimed.
Let me give you 4 brief reasons why I love the church:
1. I love the church because Jesus loves the Church – If you do a bible study on religion, you’ll find a lot of bad news mixed in with the good. If, however, you study what the Bible has to say about the church, it is almost entirely good news. Sometimes the church needed correction (Corinth) and other times encouragement not to give up (Hebrews). The bible isn’t shy about showing us that as God’s church we have problems and troubles. But in the end the church will be presented as God’s ultimate trophy of Grace before the watching principalities and powers (Ephesians 3:10). Let’s read the following carefully:
Ephesians 5: Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her … so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
Jesus Loves the Church!
2. I Love the Church Because The Church Loves Christ - I’ve learned to be a grateful member of my local church, because when the church really loves Jesus there’s no place on earth like it. I have been hurt by people in churches. But I was also healed by Jesus through people in churches. When a local church is in love with Jesus, it shows up in the most amazing, transformative actions. A church that really loves Jesus is one that will love each other and their community in deep, sacrificial ways. It’s a beautiful thing to see a loving church in action.
3. I Love the Church Because through the Church I Came to Love Jesus and know He Loves Me - It’s easy to forget this sometimes. Even if the church never did anything else for me, she brought me to Jesus. For that, I will love her forever. I have been saved out of hell and into heaven. And Jesus used the church – the fellowship and testimony of others who know and love Jesus – to accomplish that purpose. I think of people with names like Smith, Swartz, Miller, Madas, Rubright, who were instrumental in my journey to the cross. No, the church didn't save me. Only Christ does that. But Christ has chosen to use the church (the people, not an institution) as his primary means to bring people to salvation.
4. I Love the Church Because the Church is a Force to be Reckoned with – Years ago Ghandi, criticized Christians by saying: “You Christians look after a document containing enough dynamite to blow all civilization to pieces, turn the world upside-down, and bring peace to a battle-torn planet. But you treat it as nothing more than a piece of good literature.” I hate to admit it but he was correct. I think we under-value the church in the same way we under-value the Bible. The church of Jesus has amazing, and miraculous power, but we often treat the awesomeness of the church like a job, a duty, or simply something to do. Then we wonder where the power and joy disappeared to.
From now on I plan to see the church how God sees her:
His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known. (Ephesians 3:10)
Through the church. Through you and me, by the Spirit working in and through us, God has chosen to make his wisdom known to the world.
See You Sunday … In Church